Governor Pawlenty on Minnesota Health Care – Full News Conference

In advance of President Obama’s health care rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota Governor Pawlenty releases his own “top 10″ things to know about Minnesota health care. Also speaking are Minnesota Commissioner of Health Sanne Magnan and Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services Cal Ludeman

Below is the press release from the Governor’s office



1. We can’t afford what we already have.  Over the past two decades, Minnesota’s
publicly-subsidized health care programs have grown at a rate substantially faster than
the rest of the state budget and those growth rates are unsustainable.  Those programs
need to be redesigned and paid for differently.  They are not a model for cost savings for
the nation.

From the past two-year state budget to the current two-year state budget, expenditures
for the state’s MinnesotaCare program increased by 34.5%, while state general fund
expenditures were reduced by 7.6%.

Ten years ago, the average monthly cost of coverage for MinnesotaCare was $129, this
year it is $378.  The average annual increase over that period was 11.4%

2. Incorporate payment reform.  Our current system rewards volume, instead of value.
Minnesota’s reforms are setting the groundwork to better align incentives and reform the
payment system.  Minnesota uses better coordination of care, paying for baskets of care
- rather than for individual services or procedures – and an incentive payment system
that rewards providers for keeping people healthy and offering high-value health care.

3. Focus on cost and quality, not just expanding access.  Minnesota’s health care
reforms reward health care providers by paying for improved quality, not volumes of
procedures.  We have also taken steps to hold down cost growth by creating a uniform
billing and coding process, requiring e-prescribing, and using other tools.  Simply adding
people to a broken, bankrupt and out-of-control federal system will not improve health

4. Make it easier for consumers to use HSA plans.  A study done in 2008 showed
Minnesota has the highest percentage of HSA (health savings account) enrollees for
those under age 65 at 9.2%.  HSAs encourage competition as consumers seek out
higher quality and lower cost health care.  HSAs also connect consumers more directly
to their health care.  The savings realized by these plans are meaningful.

5. Enact real tort reform.  Minnesota is one of six states that require expert certification
before filing a professional negligence lawsuit.  This has helped reduce the number of
frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits.  Frivolous lawsuits increase the practice of
“defensive medicine,” which increases health care costs.  Non-economic damages
should also be capped at reasonable levels.

6. Provide consumers with more information.  Minnesota is the first state in the nation
to provide online cost and quality information for the 100 most common health services
( In addition, state employees are being provided with
personal health portfolios this year with the goal of encouraging all employers to do the
same by 2011.

7. Use market principles to hold down costs.  State employees in Minnesota can
choose any clinic available to them in a private market system.  However, individuals
who use more costly and less efficient clinics are required to pay more out-of-pocket. 
Not surprisingly, informed health care consumers wisely vote with their feet and wallets. 
This has resulted in no increase in health care amounts paid by employees during three
of the last five years and below market increases the other two years.

8. Engage the private sector as a partner, not as an opponent.  Employers in
Minnesota have joined together to create the Smart Buy Alliance
(, a coalition that represents more than 60 percent of
Minnesota’s population and drives improvement in the health care delivery system.

9. Require hospitals to report medical errors and stop paying for them.  Minnesota
was the first state to create a mandatory reporting system based on the list of 28
“Serious Reportable Events.”  Now, more than half the states have some kind of
reporting system.  Minnesota providers have agreed not to bill for medical errors.

10. Prevent denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions and end the prohibition
against purchasing health insurance across state lines.  Coupling new rules to
prevent denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions and allowing the purchase of
insurance across state lines will help increase competition and reduce costs.  Health
care reform should also allow for association plans to help small businesses and others
afford insurance for their employees.  

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